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Handicapping The Letdown Factor

Do oddsmakers account for the “letdown factor” in the point spread when they are setting the lines? 

Absolutely. And you should too. 

“The letdown factor is often overlooked by bettors,” says Adam Chernoff, a full-time trader and former head oddsmaker. “These teams obviously draw a lot of attention (after a big upset or game) and that’s a lot of people overreacting to the news.” 

We’re talking about college sports here for the most part. The effect one game can have on amateur athletes is far greater than in the pros and it’s tough to duplicate the magnitude of one game that is an inherent part of the college culture. 

Depending on the school, the bounce-back after the win can be a mountain to climb. A school like Duke, which beat Notre Dame as a 3-touchdown underdog on Sept. 24, is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight.  The Blue Devils – more renowned for their hoops and study habits – are now targeted as a big ‘play on’ team by the recreational bettor. 

That makes it tricky for the books. 

“The bigger lines are a lot more difficult to set. The smaller the line, the smaller the adjustment will be,” says Chernoff. 

There’s also the consideration of the team that was on the losing side. 

“That team will often be discredited by the public, which goes against the natural progression of their motivation,” says Chernoff.  

Florida State was a prime example of that on the Sept. 24 weekend also. The Noles got thumped in Week 3 at Louisville in one of the most hyped games of the 2016 season. Then they were installed as mere 5-point favorites at South Florida. I talked on FoxSports' Outkick The Coverage about how I couldn’t believe the amount of attention this game was getting. 

Florida State torched the Bulls 55-35 and oddsmakers probably wished they threw a few more points USF's way. 

So it’s something you always want to consider. Keep a close eye on where the public moves these letdown games and then it’s up to you to decide if there’s value. Often there is. 

I look at coaching in these spots in addition to how well the letdown team matches up against their next opponent. If there are key areas where they badly outmatch their foe, talent and statistics usually trump the potential for an emotional lapse for me.  

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